Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys


A few years ago, a centerian named Lilian lost her cat Sammy. Her passing had left a hole in Lilian’s heart, and she longed to have a feline companion in her life again. Earlier this month, Lilian celebrated her 103rd birthday. The staff at the assisted living facility where she resides contacted a local shelter, and found 9-year-old Marley, whose kind and gentle temperament made her the purrfect candidate to become Lilian’s new pet. Visit the Dodo for more about Lilian and Marley, and heartwarming photos of the two.*

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: on Monday, Dr. Lynn Bahr answered reader questions, on Tuesday, we celebrated Ruby’s 7th adoption anniversary, on Wednesday, we introduced you to the art of Carolee Clark, on Thursday, we explored whether cat litter could present health risks to you and your cat, and on Friday, we reviewed DIY Projects for Cats and Dogs.

Today’s video makes me smile every time I watch it – enjoy!

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Have a great weekend!

* I suspect that there will be varied reactions to this story. Let me be clear that I don’t advocate giving a cat as a birthday present. I also realize that adopting pets to seniors, let alone a 103-year-old woman, despite overwhelming evidence that pets bring amazing benefits to the elderly, can be a controversial topic. I believe that each situation needs to be addressed individually, rather than with an across the board policy that hurts adoptable cats and the seniors that need the love of a feline friend in their lives.

Photo via The Dodo

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16 Comments on Mews and Nips: Homeless Tortie Becomes the Purrfect Birthday Gift for 103-Year-Old Woman

  1. Thank you for this story- in my late 50s, I am lucky to have my lovely 5 cats, but once they have passed on, I plan to only adopt senior cats- I will be older but still have lots of love to give and time to spend with a lovely older cat.

  2. When my mother was in her late 70’s, she wanted to get a cat. She went to many shelters and rescues. but they wouldn’t give her any. I took her to a shelter in San Francisco, and we picked out Dee Dee, who was 9 years old, too, and given to the shelter “because she wasn’t nice to the baby.” She was very loving, and a black cat, which we love, so I told the shelter I would be responsible for her if my mom passed away.. My mom passed away later (and we took Dee Dee to my house), but she got so much love, and Dee Dee got love in return. I think shelters and rescues should hand out sample trust docs or wills, or have someone sign a paper that they will take the kitty after the senior passes away. I just lost my Tortie, Mama Kitty, to kidney failure. People had told me Torties were tempermental, but she was very loving to humans and my other cats.

  3. as long as there is a plan, giving a pet as a gift can be, and usually is, a good thing. Same with giving a cat to the elderly.

  4. What an amazing article. Thanks for sharing it. It is heart touching. I also lost my cat “pota” a few years back ago. Having a sweet loving companion with you is like having someone by your side.

  5. I have visited and volunteered at many assisted living homes with Resident cats. My mom lived in one of them for over 10 years. It is a wonderful thing and if the cat’s person must leave them, the staff will make sure the kittie is cared for until she chooses to adopt someone else at the home. That’s been my experience.

  6. My shelter adopted out a cat to an 84 year old woman in an assisted living facility. She’s not a sturdy woman and she never owned a cat before, but a dog would be too much for her.

    She ADORES that cat. And the cat loves her! And other residents visit her just to see the cat, which means more visitors and interaction for everyone!

    Her goal is to die before the cat does and find another resident in the facility to care for her. She’s quietly scoping out other residents to see who she (and the cat) like best.

    This cat has made an enormous difference in the quality of her life. I wish more facilities would help people have pets.

  7. I agree with the comments. As long as Marley can remain at the care home when Lillian passes and has someone there to care for her when the time comes. I think this is a beautiful idea and beneficial to the residents. Hopefully the care home has made some future arrangements for Sammy.

  8. Such a lovely story, I am sure that Lilian and Marley are enriching each others lives in the most wonderful way! Also heartwarming to read, that (certain) old peoples homes/special facilities, allows animals as well as humans – so much research that animals can help and heal people, and at the hospice where my Mom spent her last weeks, they had Bunnies that they could pet, I remember that my Mom enjoyed that a lot (since she had a cat, that came to live with me when Mom no longer could take care of her).

  9. This is a beautiful story. But it does not say what the plans are for Marley when Lilian passes away. I hope it’s not back to the shelter…

  10. I think it’s a wonderful story. And the fact that Lilian lived at an assisted living facility, I’m sure one of the staff had planned to take care of the cat if something happened to Lilian.

  11. what a beautiful story!!! thanks for sharing it and the pictures, it was heartwarming; I just lost my tortie so it had even more special meaning. there really should be more of this…finding homes for adoptable shelter animals with folks in senior homes..good for both! But have something in writing that when the senior owner passes, the animal will be taken care of and not dumped at the shelter again or turned loose. not fair to the animal.

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